Leap Day, on February 29, has been a day of traditions, folklore and superstitions for over 2000 years. The best known of which is the tradition that women may propose marriage to their men.
There’s an Irish legend that St Brigid made a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men every four years. In the same way that the extra day balances the calendar and time, this reversal balances the traditional roles of men and women in the marriage ritual.
Leap day is also known as “Bachelors’ Day”. If a man refuses a proposal on 29th February, he is expected to pay a penalty, which could range from a kiss, right through to a silk dress or, most commonly, a pair of gloves. During the middle ages there were even laws in some European countries governing this tradition!
Other Leap Day Facts
People born on February 29 are entitled to join Society of Leap Year Day Babies.
The Guinness Book of Records has a World Record Holders of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 and another of the number of children born on February 29 in the same family.
St Oswald’s Day
Leap day is also St Oswald’s Day. He was an archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. His festival is celebrated in the church on February 29 during leap years and on February 28 during other years
Go For It on Leap Day
So are you thinking of popping the big question to your man on February 29th?
Really, if you’re going to propose, you’re probably equally up for proposing on any day. But before you drop it out of the blue, consider whether you have talked about marriage with your partner? If you’re not sure whether you’re both ready, you may be best to wait. However you could use February 29th as a time to talk to your partner about the future.
Once you’re sure, there are lots of reasons for you to take charge. Maybe he lacks confidence and would never build up the courage to do it himself. Maybe he’d just love to be asked. However, it’s probably best to propose in private rather than go down on one knee in a packed nightclub or restaurant.
The actual proposal will probably be best if it can be a bit light-hearted, fun and flirtatious. You could try making a sign saying, “Will you marry me?” and hanging it on a tree in a favourite spot. Don’t worry about the rings. You can go shopping together later. As the leap day corrects the discrepancy between the calendar year (365 days) and the time it takes for the earth to complete one orbit of the sun (365 days and 6 hours), it was an opportunity for women to correct a tradition that was one-sided and unfair.